Charles Manson, mass murderer and former cult leader, died on Nov. 19 at the age of 83. Manson had been serving a life sentence at California State Prison in Corcoran, and though he was hospitalized earlier this year for a serious illness, he is said to have died of natural causes.
Manson was a failed musician who spent much of his early life caught up in a cycle of petty theft and incarceration. By the time he made his way out to California at the age of 32, he had spent more than half of his life in prison. But his 1967 move to San Francisco changed everything, as it’s there that he began the Manson Family, a cult-like group that borrowed ideologies and philosophies from a number of different faiths. Manson quickly began to amass followers – many of whom were young, disenfranchised women – all of whom were given a place to stay and copious amounts of drugs in exchange for devotion to his cause. That cause, however, was to start a race war – and in the summer of 1969, it culminated in a two-day killing spree which left 7 people dead, including director Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate.
Though there are numerous other murders that have been attributed to Manson and his followers – including an attempted assassination of then-president Gerald Ford – it’s the Tate-LaBianca murders that would land Manson in prison for life in 1971. It’s worth noting that while Manson himself didn’t conduct the physical crimes, he did provide specific instructions for what should be done to the victims. As a result he was sentenced to death for seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy. In fact, it’s only because California ruled the death penalty unconstitutional that his sentence was changed to life without parole.
Up until the very end, Manson showed no remorse for what he had done over the course of his life as a criminal and mass murderer. As The New York Times points out, he basically said as much in a 1986 interview with Charlie Rose. When asked if he cared about the fact that he took the life of a mother and her unborn child, Manson replied “Care?” adding, “”What the hell does that mean, ‘care’?”